Forever, Chinatown

About This Episode


For the past four decades, Frank Wong has been creating extraordinary, miniature dioramas of the Chinatown he remembers from his youth. He replicates the rooms and buildings in scenes that recall a long-ago San Francisco, a time when life was difficult for many in the Chinese American community.

Wong admits his replicas are “half-wishing, half-memory,” inspired by romantic recollections, memories, and faded photographs. His dioramas have the power to connect viewers to a time, as well as a place. “I can start smelling the food now, almost,” says one admiring viewer, looking at a tiny copy of Frank’s Grandma’s kitchen. The scenes remind us how people shape places and places shape people. Forever, Chinatown is a meditation on memory, community and one man’s artistic legacy.